The Philippine Golf Tour marks its decade-long season with a 12-stage circuit across the country starting with The Country Club Invitational on April 23-26 featuring a select cast headed by six former champions at the TCC course in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Angelo Que and Juvic Pagunsan shoot for a record fourth championship, Miguel Tabuena aims for a big rebound coming off an injury and Korean-American Micah Shin gears up for a reprise of his record feat last year when he edged Tabuena by one to become the first non-Filipino to win in what has long been considered as a major golfing championship.
But the rest of the top 30 players in the 2018 PGT Order of Merit ranking are also coming into the P5 million event upbeat but wary of their chances not only against the tour’s revered names but also over the dreaded par-72 Tom Weiskoph-designed layout.
The TCC has staged two big events the last six weeks, the inaugural TCC Ladies Invitational, which featured no less the world No. 1 Sung Hyun Park of Korea, and the Solaire Philippine Open topped by Clyde Mondilla, making it more than ready to host another top-notch championship among the best of the best.
But while Park’s victory was expected, Mondilla’s feat came as a surprise with the Del Monte ace outlasting American Nicolas Paez and winning by two despite a closing 75 and a two-over 290 total.
That should make the chase for the top P1.5 million purse doubly interesting since no one holds a distinct advantage at the exacting layout with its unsettling hazards and roughs and undulating surface plus the wind that come into play in most holes.
The TCC Invitational also features former winners Tony Lascuña and Frankie Miñoza, and a slew of young guns raring to join the elite circle of winners in the event put up by ICTSI boss Ricky Razon to honor the memory of his father and ICTSI founder Don Pocholo, himself an avid golfer.
Jobim Carlos, who won two tournaments and dished out a number of top five finishes to clinch the PGT Order of Merit title last year, hopes to shake off a hand injury that has hampered his campaign in the last two tournaments as he boosts the cast that also includes PGT leg winners Jhonnel Ababa, Korean Kim Joo Hyung, Dutch Guido Van der Valk and Jerson Balasabas.
Others in the fold are veteran Jay Bayron, Aussie Tim Stewart, Justin Quiban, Joenard Rates, Elmer Salvador, James Ryan Lam, Albin Engino, American Lexus Keoninh, Peter Stojanovski of Macedonia, Michael Bibat, Reymon Jaraula, Zanieboy Gialon, Arnold Villacencio, Nico Salahog, Rene Menor, Keanu Jahns, Mhark Fernando and Anthony Fernando.
Meanwhile, the Delimondo National Pro-Am will be held next on May 9-11 at Splendido before the circuit, organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., resumes with the Visayas swing on June 5-8 (Cebu), June 12-15 (Bacolod), June 19-22 (Negros Occidental) and June 26-29 (Iloilo).
After the Riviera Classic on Aug. 7-10, the tour goes down south with a four-leg swing, starting in Pueblo de Oro on Sept. 11-14 then in Del Monte on Sept. 18-21, Rancho Palos Verdes on Sept. 25-28 and Apo on Oct. 2-5 before winding up at Luisita in Tarlac on Nov. 6-9.